Melbourne-based writer Anna George
I first discovered Anna George's phenomenal debut novel, What Came Before, https://www.penguin.com.au/books/what-came-before-9781743482780 after listening to her speak about second her incredible novel, The Lone Child, https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-lone-child-9780670077748 during the Sydney Writers' Festival in 2018.
What Came Before was released in 2014 but had somehow slipped under my radar. Books that have the reader hooked from the very first page are a publisher's dream. Books that have you captivated in the opening four lines are extremely rare. Anna's debut is one of them.
'My name is David James Forrester. I'm a solicitor. Tonight, at 6.10, I killed my wife. This is my statement.' This book was haunting. I thought that I knew what was happening, but in those closing chapters I realised that I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA!! What a twist. Writing about it has made me want to read it all over again.
It isn't hard to see why it was shortlisted for the 2015 Ned Kelly and Sisters in Crime Best Debut Fiction awards, and was longlisted for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award.
So I have been eagerly lying in wait ever since, to read what Anna had in store for us next. And finally, the wait is over. Tipping is Anna's brand new release and is a massive departure from her previous darker-themed novels. https://www.penguin.com.au/books/tipping-9781760897789
It laces humour within a narrative that deals with social and gender inequality, wrapping it all up in another beautifully written page turner. It is current. It is relevant. And it gives voices to issues that are frequently in the news.
The blurb says 'Light-hearted and optimistic, Tipping is a novel for our times. It’s a story of domestic activism. Mum and dad activism. Because real change is possible. Sometimes all it takes is a tweak. And the will. And a bit of fun.'
It is all this and more. But don't take my word for it. Buy a copy for yourself and check it out...and after you finish Tipping, take my advice and grab yourself a copy of Anna's earlier novels. You won't be able to put them down.
Without further ado, I will hand you over to the lovely Anna.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: So much of writing is rewriting so I wish someone had told me not to get too hung up on the first draft. I’d like to have been told to just get to the end of it and see what you have, see what you like, see what interests you; and then shape and rewrite. And rewrite. And then when it’s as good as it can be SEND IT OUT.
If that manuscript doesn’t find a home, or you lose the love for it early on, start another one. But choose to write about things that you really care about because this process takes time and your commitment will be challenged, over and over again.
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: There are so many books! But if I have to choose one: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout https://www.elizabethstrout.com/books/olive-kitteridge
(Oh my...have just read Ch 1. What beautiful prose. I always love discovering new authors to read. Just downloaded it onto my Kindle. Shelley.xx)
Anna's sun-filled writing space.
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: Honestly, I can’t remember. But it would have been a novel about a horse. I would have been eleven.
(I too was horse obsessed at that age. The Black Stallion was one of my favourite novels. Shelley.xx)
Q4: What is your favourite drink? Coffee, tea, wine or…
A: Banana smoothies, and tea. I drink A LOT of tea.
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: The Serpent’s Skin by Erina Reddan https://www.panterapress.com.au/product/the-serpents-skin/ Erina is a friend of a good friend of mine, and I’ve just started this novel. It’s intriguing.
(Another one to add to my overflowing tbr pile. Shelley.xx)
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: For my main character Liv Winsome, who is an overwhelmed working mum of three school age boys – Rose Byrne because she’s a wonderful comedic actress and very likeable; and for Duncan, her half decent, half absent, lawyer husband… Andy Lee? He has the right look and is funny. Can he act?
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: The sea. Or my people. Can’t choose.
'This photo is special to me as I love the colours in it, it’s beautifully watery and it is of one of my sons in a pool.
It says summer time and youth and beauty to me.'
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: Anywhere in Europe: France, Greece, Spain, Portugal... It’s been such a long time for me and seems like it will be such a long time before we can go there again.
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: Behavioural designer: someone who designs environments, including work practices and processes, to move people’s behaviour towards particular goals and specifically towards gender equality. That interests me a lot today. Because it works. Or… a radio interviewer or podcaster. I do enjoy talking to interesting, interested people.
Q10: Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?
A: Writing is a necessary part of my life. While I don’t view it as a spiritual practice as such, largely because I don’t think in those terms, it does serve a spiritual purpose. In that, I write to express myself and to raise awareness and encourage conversation around topics that I think are important and theses topics tend to have a social justice focus.
I write to engage others in certain ideas and to encourage empathy and connection between people, and to raise understanding of topics that we in society are grappling with – like domestic abuse, or raising children alone, or gender inequality and the need for young people to be educated properly so that they respect each other and so that young men do not harass or assault their peers.
The topics that I write about are on a societal scale, but the stories are usually of say three key people and how they respond to events relevant to these issues. So I’m coming from a place of heart but also of the mind; and with my latest book TIPPING about gender equality, I’m hoping to inspire people to think differently about what is possible, about how change is possible and to inspire people to make small changes in their own lives.
'An Instagram scandal at a grammar school sparks outrage in an exclusive bayside suburb and upends the lives of the families involved. However, it might also prove to be the tipping point required to change the school, and the wider community, for the better.
Liv Winsome, working mother of three sons, wife to decent if distracted Duncan, is overwhelmed. And losing her hair. Her doctor has told her she needs to slow down, do less. Focus on what’s important.
After Jai, one of her fourteen-year-old twins, is involved in a sexting scandal, Liv realises things need to change, and fast. Inspired by the pop-psychology books she devours, she writes a nine-page list of everything she does to keep the family afloat, and she delegates. She lets her boys’ conservative school know it has some work to do, too – partly, Liv suspects, because its leadership has a ‘woman problem’ (or, rather, a too-many-men problem).
Jai’s girlfriend, Grace, is at the heart of the sexting scandal and her mum, Jess Charters, up in arms as well, goes to the media. The women’s combined focus forces Carmichael Grammar to take action. To everyone’s surprise, and Liv’s delight, things actually start to improve.
Inspired by his wife’s efforts, Duncan rethinks the way he lives and works, too, despite the workaholic culture of his law firm and its scary managing partner, who’s also Duncan's older brother. In unexpected ways, Liv and Duncan’s marriage and family life undergo their own transformations. Some new developments, though, aren’t entirely welcome.
Light-hearted and optimistic, Tipping is a novel for our times. It’s a story of domestic activism. Mum and dad activism. Because real change is possible. Sometimes all it takes is a tweak. And the will. And a bit of fun.'
Thank you Anna for being my April 15th Author Stalker victim. xx
Tipping is available through all leading bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Anna, you can find her here: